So, WHY did the chicken cross the road? – From Big Data to Neuromarketing


From Big Data to Neuromarketing
Brain Science and Stats meets Marketing
mweathe 216041883


Is this what marketing looks like today?

Consumer Behaviour traditionally can be described as: The study of HOW people make decisions about WHAT they buy, want, need, or act in regards to a product, service or company.

However, with the world becoming an increasingly global marketplace and this being the age of consumer empowerment, the how and what just aren’t enough for marketers anymore.

Understanding WHY a consumer actually makes a purchase decision, or relates to a company or their product is integral for marketers.
It is no secret that now, more than ever before, companies have the ability and the technology to track, and document as much as they can on our interests, buying habits, geography, demographic and so on. This seemingly overwhelming amount of data collected is referred to as big data.

Big Data

Big data was without a doubt the “sexy” industry word in 2015. In fact, a study done by Accenture revealed that 51% of companies surveyed were already spending 20-30% of their technology budget on big data analytics, and 76% forecast this to increase in the coming years.
Big Data is not a new term and has in fact been around for decades, however it is only in the last few years that marketers have truly began to tap in to the potential of big data with the use of technology in order to gain a better insight in to the WHY.

Stats-bigdataUnderstanding how to analyze and manage big data properly has proven to yield very positive results (see Forbes graph to the right) in better understanding customer habits and predicting potential purchases from your target customer.

Taking the guess work out of how to effectively market to and identify with their consumer base is a marketers main goal. Online companies like Amazon, who feature a recommended purchase section based on your buying habits and the habits of millions of other consumers who have purchased the same products as you, have shown the ease of gathering customer information from online shopping.
As technology continues to be created and improve, brick and mortar stores have also started (over the last few years) implementing various surveillance software to track movement.

2015 ends and with 2016 a new buzz word emerges. While big data provides great insight in to the customer purchase process and allows companies to predict purchase behaviour, it still does not allow marketers to truly get inside a customers brain and fully understand the rational behind certain decisions.


Still relatively in its infancy, Neuromarketing is where marketing meets “brain science”.

In the 1950’s a study was completed on rats by researchers at McGill University. buy-button.jpgThey discovered a part of the brain that when stimulated, delivered a form of pleasure, thus nicknaming it the pleasure center. It was then discovered that humans have a similar “pleasure center”. Controversially this has been viewed as a potential “buy now” button that if stimulated correctly can be a sure way to get a customer to make a purchase.maslow
Stemming back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, marketers have always tried to appeal to a particular level or need in order to sell their product or service.

Now with the use of technology like EEG and FMRI, marketers can actually look in to a customer’s brain and their subconscious. By seeing the exact response consumers have to brands or products, as well as the reaction they can have while doing an activity, marketers can use this information to tailor their approach to better appeal to the consumer.

As Neuromarketing can be very costly (FMRI can cost up to $1000 per hour and have 30+ test subjects) and there is no ability for the test subject to have any conscious level of defense, there is much debate around the efficacy and morality of companies using this science to their advantage. At the end the of the day marketers have been trying to manipulate our decisions for years, and as argued in this Harvard Business Week Article, the use of Neuromarketing is to better understand the WHY, not control it.

Potentially due to competitive intensity, Australian retailers are starting to jump on to the Neuromarketing train, however The jury is still out on Neuromarketing  worlwide due to its infancy.

So what do you think? Buzzword, trend or marketing of the future?

Michael Weatherhead- mweathe 216041883





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